Rhizophora mangle


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Rhizophora mangle
Species Authority: L.
Common Name/s:
English Red Mangrove
Spanish Mangle Colorado
Taxonomic Notes: This species eastern Pacific distribution is now known as R. samoensis.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2010
Date Assessed: 2007-03-22
Assessor/s: Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G.
Reviewer/s: Polidoro, B.A., Livingstone, S.R. & Carpenter, K.E. (Global Marine Species Assessment Coordinating Team)
Rhizophora mangle is common in many parts of its range. It is threatened by habitat conversion, pollution, and hurricanes which have resulted in declines throughout the wider Caribbean region. While co-occurring with other species of mangrove and subject to many of the same natural and anthropogenic threats, R. mangle remains the dominant species within its range. However, given that mangrove habitats are in decline globally, and there has been an estimated 17% decline in mangrove areas within its range since 1980, it is important to monitor the future status of this critical mangrove species.This species is listed as Least Concern.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is native along the Atlantic coast from Florida to Southern Brazil, and from western Africa from Senegal to Angola (Howard 1989). Freezing sets the northern limit of mangrove forests (Stuart et al. 2007), which was recently defined for R. mangle at 29°42'94"N, 81°14'35"W in the continental United States (Zomlefer et al. 2006). However, Bermuda is the most northerly extent of its range (Thomas 1993, Smith 1998).

Presences in the middle Atlantic Islands has been recorded for this species (Trinidade e Martim Vaz, St. Helenia, Ascension-), but this is not confirmed.
Angola (Angola); Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Benin; Bermuda; Brazil; Cameroon; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Costa Rica; Côte d'Ivoire; Cuba; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Equatorial Guinea; France; French Guiana; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Liberia; Mexico; Montserrat; Netherlands Antilles; Nicaragua; Nigeria; Panama; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sao Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Suriname; Togo; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; United States Minor Outlying Islands; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British
FAO Marine Fishing Areas:
Atlantic – eastern central; Atlantic – southeast; Atlantic – southwest; Atlantic – western central; Pacific – eastern central
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: This species can be common in at least some parts of its range. In Belize for example, it is the most common species, particularly in basin environments along river banks and the coast (Murray et al. 2003). It is expanding its range in northern Florida and is characterized as invasive on two Pacific islands.

Specific population information exists for this species in the following areas:

At the mouthouth of Lostman's River in Everglades National Park, FL, U.S., 611 individuals were counted over six transects totaling 0.26 ha (McCoy et al. 1996).

In Laguna de Celestun, Yucatan, Mexico, combined data for A. germinans, R. mangle and L. racemosa show basal area ranges from 21 square meters/ha to 36 square meters/ha (Herrera-Silveira and Ramirez-Ramirez 1998).

In Parque Nacional Morrocoy, Venezuela, data show 68% R. mangle, 29% L. racemosa, 8% A. germinans, 1% unidentified total tree density, and 348 trees/0.1 ha (Bone et al. 1998).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species typically grows in the intertidal regions of sheltered tropical and subtropical coasts (Saenger 2002). It typically dominates the zone proximal to open water (McKee 1995). It grows as a shrub to small tree from 1-8 m in the Caribbean (Howard 1989) and can be reproductively mature at <1 m (Tomlinson 1986). This species is typically found from 20-35 psu. However, it can occur in brackish estuarine systems as well as in hypersaline conditions (50+ psu) where the growth form is commonly dwarf (1-2 m).

In Port Royal (17°56'N, 76°79'W), R. mangle grows in a dense monospecific stands, bordering all wetland water bodies. It is also present in a mixed zone between the R. mangle monospecific stands and monospecific stands of C. erectus, which is the border between the wetland and terrestrial zones (Alleng 1998).

Flowering occurs annually in mid-winter and spring within the wider Caribbean. Propagule size can be variable, shown to be larger in areas of higher rainfall (Tyagi 2003). Production of viviparous propagules is abundant and maintained on the parent tree for 3-6 months. Once dropped, propagules can subsist for extended periods afloat prior to rooting. Successful growth requires a canopy break or transport to open area to grow to maturity.

Fringing R. mangle (in association with seagrass beds) provide critical for Caribbean parotfish (Scarus guacamaia), a species listed as vulnerable on the Red Data List. This species is also associated with stabilization of sandy beaches critical for sea turtle nesting habitat, among countless other critical habitat functions.
Systems: Terrestrial; Marine

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Disease and herbivory can impact R. mangle (Farnsworth and Ellison 1991, Brooks and Bell 2002, Sousa et al. 2003) but are not likely to pose a serious conservation threat at this time. Also decreases in R. mangle have been documented due to land reclamation and clear cutting for marina development (Ellison and Farnsworth 1996, Farnsworth and Ellison 1997, Moore 2006). Although local estimates are uncertain due to differing legislative definitions of what is a 'mangrove' and to the imprecision in determining mangrove area, current consensus estimates of mangrove loss in the last quarter-century report an approximately 17% decline in mangrove areas in countries within this species range since 1980 (FAO 2007).

All mangrove ecosystems occur within mean sea level and high tidal elevations, and have distinct species zonations that are controlled by the elevation of the substrate relative to mean sea level. This is because of associated variation in frequency of elevation, salinity and wave action (Duke et al. 1998). With rise in sea-level, the habitat requirements of each species will be disrupted, and species zones will suffer mortality at their present locations and re-establish at higher elevations in areas that were previously landward zones (Ellison 2005). If sea-level rise is a continued trend over this century, then there will be continued mortality and re-establishment of species zones. However, species that are easily dispersed and fast growing/fast producing will cope better than those which are slower growing and slower to reproduce.

In addition, mangrove area is declining globally due to a number of localized threats. The main threat is habitat destruction and removal of mangrove areas. Reasons for removal include cleared for shrimp farms, agriculture, fish ponds, rice production and salt pans, and for the development of urban and industrial areas, road construction, coconut plantations, ports, airports, and tourist resorts. Other threats include pollution from sewage effluents, solid wastes, siltation, oil, and agricultural and urban runoff. Climate change is also thought to be a threat, particularly at the edges of a species range. Natural threats include cyclones, hurricane and tsunamis.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: There are no conservation measures specific to this species, but its range may include some marine and coastal protected areas. Continued monitoring and research is recommended, as well as the inclusion of mangrove areas in marine and coastal protected areas.
Citation: Ellison, A., Farnsworth, E. & Moore, G. 2010. Rhizophora mangle. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. <>. Downloaded on 19 April 2014.
Disclaimer: To make use of this information, please check the <Terms of Use>.
Feedback: If you see any errors or have any questions or suggestions on what is shown on this page, please fill in the feedback form so that we can correct or extend the information provided